5 tips to improve OR turnover time amid COVID-19 protocols

As elective procedures resume to compensate for a backlog of surgeries delayed due to COVID-19, improving OR turnover speed is more important than ever before.

New and vital protocols to prevent contamination can prolong surgery times, and when a single minute in the Operating Room (OR) can cost up to $133, implementing additional measures to reduce that time will be important for every ASC.1 According to OR Manager, the average ASC facility spends a median of 6.5 minutes on turnover.2 This means the process can be as costly as $864.5 per surgery. Additional cleaning and sanitation tasks must be built into your surgery scheduling system, so making up for that lost time in other ways will help you prevent further delays.

Additionally, facilities may extend their hours of operation to tackle postponed caseloads, putting further pressure on staff. By working to reduce costly OR time, you can positively impact both patient and staff satisfaction while resuming procedures. Here are five tips to help your facility improve OR turnover time amid COVID-19 protocols. 

1. Standardize your processes 

In the medical world, it’s no secret that standardizing patient care can lead to more consistent patient outcomes as well as improved efficiency.3 With this in mind, it’s important to ensure that staff are trained on new COVID-19 best practices and intense cleaning standards so that they can execute these standards quickly and consistently for each operation. While staff may find additional requirements to be burdensome, it is crucial to put standard practices in place for OR setup and cleanup to make them efficient and effective as possible. Standardizing the same types of surgeries in the same rooms will also decrease turnover time due to equipment needed.

2. Standardize your products (and consider kitting or bundling them)

In addition to standardizing processes, standardizing your OR products or consolidating them into packs can save time spent in the supply room and ensure that staff experiences are consistent from surgery to surgery. Standardized supplies mean that staff will be familiar with the products used throughout your ORs, so they can have an efficient, consistent clinical experience without usage errors. Furthermore, relying on a sterilized pack instead of introducing 20+ individual items to the sterile field can reduce the likelihood of any inadvertent breaks in sterile technique. Last, having all the right products in the OR from the start limits time spent grabbing additional supplies during surgery, and having to leave the room.

3. Look for time (and cost) savings in new places 

To mitigate negative impacts on OR turnover time, it is important to consider other factors that may decrease costs or time spent preparing for procedures. One change to consider is shifting away from traditional linen and laundering processes and instead implementing disposables in your OR. Cleaning services add up over time, and linens provide less absorbency than disposable sheets. Furthermore, linen can be rough and abrasive, increasing the potential for shearing injuries. Disposable linens work well for fluid-intensive surgeries and can also be built into a comprehensive OR turnover kit, which makes it even easier for staff to obtain all the materials they need to prep the OR. These kits can be kept in each OR to make it even more efficient. You can also consider utilizing sanitizer wipes instead of rags, as well as disposable mop heads, EKG lead wires, light handle covers and blood pressure cuffs. These disposable options save on the time and costs of decontamination and support your infection prevention practices. 

4. Gain staff buy-in for practices that drive efficiency

If you are making multiple changes to your standard OR practices, ensure that staff understand why these changes are being made and how they will impact their day-to-day work. Emphasize the benefits of standardized processes and products, and keep staff up-to-date on the positive outcomes specific to your facility. This could mean keeping accurate records of your turnover baseline both before and after implementing these changes, thereby informing your decisions and ensuring that you can share your successes with staff. 

5. Be mindful of the patient experience

As always, the most critical factor for any facility is the patient. New protocols like temperature checks, additional protective gear, and visitor restrictions can add extra time and stress to the patient experience. By following these tips and ensuring that your staff is well informed and prepared to make the experience as safe and efficient for the patient as possible, you can stay on schedule and mitigate any other delays that might negatively affect the patient experience.

For more information on how Cardinal Health is addressing COVID-19, and additional resources and tools, visit cardinalhealth.com/covid19





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